Washington Black Book Jacket

Literary Sojourn Author Study

Washington Black

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
  • Conference Room - Administration Wing
The year 1830 finds 12-year-old George enslaved on a sugar plantation in Barbados. His life changes dramatically when his master's younger scientific brother arrives.

About the Book 

Edugyan's magnificent third novel (after Half-Blood Blues) again demonstrates her range and gifts. Eleven-year-old slave George Washington Black cuts sugar cane on a Barbados plantation owned by a sadistic Englishman named Erasmus Wilde until Wilde's scientist brother, Titch, visits in 1830 to work on the experimental airship he calls Cloud-cutter. Titch makes Wash his servant because the boy's weight makes suitable ballast for Cloud-cutter, teaches Wash to read, and nurtures his gift for scientific thought and illustration. As Wash is transformed-and confused-by Titch's tutelage, Erasmus becomes increasingly punitive toward him. Titch, afraid for his protégé's life, devises a risky nighttime escape on Cloud-cutter, which collides with the masts of a ship bound for Virginia. After arriving there, the two head northward, getting as far as the Arctic before Titch, insisting that Wash stay behind, strikes out into the snow for reasons Wash cannot understand. Not knowing whether Titch is alive or dead, Wash continues his travels and scientific work. But he feels compelled to find out Titch's fate and learn why his mentor rejected him. Framing the story with rich evocations of the era's science and the world it studies, Edugyan mines the tensions between individual goodwill and systemic oppression, belonging and exclusion, wonder and terror, and human and natural order. The novel's patience feels essential: the characters' many passages from painful endings to tentative rebirths are necessarily slow and searching. Crafted in supple, nuanced prose, Edugyan's novel is both searing and beautiful. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Club 

The Bud Werner Book Club meets once a month and is facilitated by Bud Werner Library's Circulation Services Manager, Michelle Dover. Open to anyone interested in participating, this club meets in the evening and is designed to be inclusive, supportive and meet the needs and interests of the group. No need to attend all of the discussions, just pick the ones that interest you! Group is limited to 15 participants per meeting. Sign up at the circulation desk, call 879-0240, or use the registration button at the top of this page.